Address at the Opening of Parliament,
National Assembly, Cape Town, 25 June 1999
Madame Speaker and Deputy Speaker,
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and
Premiers of our Provinces,
Distinguished representatives of local government,
Deputy President of the Republic,
Honourable Members of our National Parliament,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
We are on course.
Steadily, the dark clouds of despair are lifting, giving
way to our season of hope.
Our country which, for centuries, has bled from a thousand
wounds is progressing towards its healing.
The continuing process of social and national emancipation,
to which we are all subject, constitutes an evolving
act of self-definition.
At the dawn of a new life, our practical actions must
ensure that none can challenge us when we say - we are
a nation at work to build a better life!
When the millions of our people went to vote three
weeks ago in peaceful elections that were free and fair,
they guaranteed the permanence of the foundations from
which we will advance to meet this objective.
To these masses we owe the obligation to recommit the
government on whose behalf I speak, to the construction
of a people-centred society. This I am happy to do with
all the authority at my command.
What will guide us in everything we do will be the
challenge to build a caring society.
This society must guarantee the dignity of every citizen
on the basis of a good quality of life for every woman,
man and child, without regard to race, colour or disability.
It must be sustained by a growing economy capable of
extending sustainable and equitable benefits to all
We seek to replace a society which, in many instances,
has been and continues to be brutal and brutish in the
Over the centuries this has condemned millions to a
catastrophic loss of national identity and human dignity,
land dispossession, classification and denigration as
sub-humans and the systematic destruction of families
The society we seek to replace was, to a very significant
degree, built on the law of the jungle of the survival
of the fittest.
Accordingly, the weakest who were denied access to
power became the landless, the unemployed, the uneducated,
the surplus people deported to the so-called homelands,
the victims of abject poverty.
Among these are those in our cities and towns who have
lost all hope and all self-worth, who have slid into
a twilight world of drug and alcohol abuse, the continuous
sexual and physical abuse of women and children, of
purposeless wars fought with fists and boots, metal
rods, knives and guns, everyday resulting in death and
grievous bodily harm.
The society we seek to replace entrenched corruption
in all areas of human activity informed by the notion
that concepts of right and wrong are dead and, therefore,
that everything that serves my personal interests is
What we have said shows the enormity of the challenge
we face to succeed in creating the caring society we
have spoken of.
For this reason this is not a task that can be carried
out by the government alone. The challenge of the reconstruction
and development of our society into one which guarantees
human dignity, faces the entirety of our people.
It is a national task that calls for the mobilisation
of the whole nation into united people's action, into
a partnership with government for progressive change
and a better life for all, for a common effort to build
a winning nation.
The Government therefore commits itself to work in
a close partnership with all our people, inspired by
the call - Faranani! -to ensure that we draw on the
energy and genius of the nation to give birth to something
that will surely be new, good and beautiful.
We invite all those in our country who occupy positions
of authority and responsibility to join in this new
way of doing things, by engaging the people whom they
serve and lead in the common effort to transform all
of us into a people at work for a better South Africa.
One of the central features of the brutish society
we seek to bring to an end is the impermissible level
of crime and violence. Acting together with the people,
we will heighten our efforts radically to improve the
safety and security of all our citizens.
This will entail a variety of initiatives focussed
on ensuring the effective implementation of the national
crime prevention strategy. Let me mention a few of these,
relating mainly to policing.
We will work to improve the professional competence
and effectiveness of the Police Service by introducing
new human resource development programmes.
I am also pleased to announce that new recruits with
the requisite levels of education will be brought into
the Service to help transform the Police Service into
the pride of the nation. Appropriate measures will be
taken to give these recruits the necessary training
so that they can assume their positions as soon as possible
at all levels, including the senior management echelon.
At the same time, all relevant regulations will be reviewed
to ensure the proper promotion and deployment of serving
members, taking into account their competence, honesty
and dedication and the need to end the racial and gender
imbalances within the Police Service.
Steps will also be taken to review the conditions of
service of the Police Service with a view to their improvement.
This must also help us to ensure that we raise the public
status of our policemen and women so that they are seen,
correctly, as the frontline guarantors of the fundamental
human rights to life, safety and security.
To enable our law enforcement agencies to translate
this into reality, I am privileged to announce that
a special and adequately staffed and equipped investigation
unit will be established urgently to deal with all national
priority crimes, including police corruption.
I have directed that the Ministers of Safety and Security,
Defence, Intelligence, Justice, Home Affairs and Finance
must finalise all outstanding matters which relate to
the activation of this unit within a fortnight.
Co-ordination of all security organs will be improved
in accordance with the provisions of the National Crime
Taking into account developments since its passage
and to ensure that nobody benefits from the proceeds
of crime, amendments to the Prevention of Organised
Crime Act will be introduced.
Legislation against money laundering will also be introduced.
Legislation will also be introduced to ensure that
we can deal mercilessly with all crimes involving guns,
including the illegal possession of firearms, the killing
of police officers, corruption within the criminal justice
system and the intimidation of witnesses.
A study conducted by the Co-ordination and Implementation
Unit in the Office of the Deputy President has confirmed
what surely all of us have known, of the correlation
between poverty, crime and race.
The areas of high crime concentration, including all
crimes of violence, are the black and poor areas of
These include such areas as Tsolo in the Eastern Cape,
Thabong in the Free State, Katlehong in Gauteng, Inanda
in KwaZulu-Natal, KaNyamazana in Mpumalanga, Mafikeng
in the North West, Galeshewe in the Northern Cape, Thohoyandou
in the Northern Province and Mitchells's Plain in the
We will therefore make multi-disciplinary interventions
in these areas, starting with a few pilot areas, drawing
in all spheres of government and engaging the people
themselves in an offensive to ensure that we reduce
the levels of crime in these areas which are characterised
by a high incidence of crime.
Measures will also be taken to strengthen the Community
Police Fora to improve their capacity to mobilise the
people against crime and to improve co-operation between
the people and the law enforcement agencies.
As we have said, the partnership between the Government
and the people will be one of the hallmarks of the national
offensive against crime and violence.
We will also adopt this same approach of partnership
with the people in the fight against corruption. In
this regard, we must ensure that we pass the Open Democracy
Act and move speedily to ensure the implementation of
the provisions relating to the protection of whistleblowers.
The coming into force of the Public Finance Management
Act will also increase our capacity to ensure proper
control and accountability with regard to public finances.
New steps will also be taken to ensure the enforcement
of the Code of Conduct for Public Servants as well as
the proposals that emerged from the government and national
anti-corruption conferences held during 1998 and 1999.
In this regard, standing arrangements will be entered
into, requiring that the Public Service Commission and
the representatives of the private sector account publicly
for the actions to which they committed themselves at
A further impetus will have to be given to the initiative
of Religious Leaders against Corruption to achieve the
"RDP of the soul" which Nelson Mandela spoke
I would like to take this opportunity once more to
reiterate the commitment of our government to honest,
transparent and accountable government and our determination
to act against anybody who transgresses these norms.
The South African Revenue Service, the Police Service
and the Director of Public Prosecutions will further
strengthen their co-operation in the fight against financial
and economic crimes.
The example set by SARS of openness with regard to
violators of the law, regardless of social standing,
will be maintained.
Urgent work is proceeding to determine the possibility
of establishing special commercial crime courts as soon
as possible as well as the gathering of the necessary
complement of intelligence officers, investigators and
prosecutors to ensure that we deal effectively with
The caring society of which we have spoken must, of
course, successfully address the challenge of meeting
the material needs of our people.
The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP)
and the Growth, Employment and Redistribution Programme
(GEAR) were implemented by our first democratic government
to achieve socio-economic transformation and macro-economic
The structural changes entailed within these processes
were also to take place within the context of our economy
becoming more competitive as it integrated itself within
the global economy.
The RDP and GEAR will remain the basic policy objectives
of the new government to achieve sustainable growth,
development and improved standards of living.
At the same time, we will actively address any remaining
impediments to investment and job creation. Where the
structural changes already achieved allow us to evolve
new policies, we will do so.
Among other things, the revised GDP figures announced
on the 21st of June confirm both the structural change
that has taken place within our economy and the fact
of a more robust economic performance than the pessimists
would have us believe.
The challenge remains for all of us to get to know
the real South Africa and, in this context, to fight
back to defeat a frame of mind which drives some among
us to hope and pray for failure and to celebrate such
failure whenever it has occurred, or when we have convinced
ourselves that it has occurred.
Our task is to build on the achievements reflected
in the economic realities reflected in the figures issued
by Statistics South Africa at the beginning of this
Accordingly, we have to work to increase both the level
of investment and the savings ratio. This will include
further steps to eliminate any dis-saving by the state
and to introduce incentives to encourage saving.
The improvements in the deficit and debt ratios indicated
in the latest GDP figures, will also give us some space
further to increase public sector capital expenditure.
This will strengthen the improvement in capital expenditure
by public authorities and public corporations reported
in the GDP figures to which we have referred.
The further transformation of the state machinery will
result in changes to the public expenditure patterns,
against personnel costs, in favour of capital expenditure,
These processes will also involve the provincial sphere
The Municipal Infrastructure Programme is now beginning
to progress. To increase the momentum requires further
improvements in local government financial management.
It also requires concerted action to promote public-private
partnerships, which must be constructed on a fiscally
sound and sustainable basis.
These matters, affecting the critical local government
sphere will be attended to in a vigorous manner.
Investment in the public sector is closely associated
with the restructuring of state assets. Progress in
this area has been made over the last five years. We
are now at a stage where further important restructuring
can and will take place.
In the telecommunications sector, there will be further
developments with the issuing of new licences. This
will have a further positive impact on the expansion
and modernisation of our telecommunications infrastructure,
the affordability of services to consumers and investment
in the economy.
I am happy to inform the Honourable Members that former
minister, Jay Naidoo, will continue to work in this
sector to assist in its further development domestically
and to promote the African Connection, which is a critical
element of the African Renaissance.
Some of the most important developments with regard
to the restructuring of state assets will relate to
Transnet. In part, the priority given to this corporation
arises from the fact that the transport and logistic
system it contains underpins the success of other major
These include the Spatial Development Initiatives,
the Industrial Development Zones, cross-border initiatives,
the industrial participation programmes arising out
of the defence procurement as well as the overall export
The complex work that had to be done to prepare the
Transnet corporation for its restructuring enabled us
to put part of the national carrier, South African Airways
on the market.
I am pleased to announce that the winning bidder is
Swissair which will acquire 20 per cent of SAA at a
price of R1.4 billion.
We are very satisfied with this result, convinced that
it will bring maximum benefits to our country, further
strengthen our relations with the Confederation of Switzerland
and again demonstrate in practical terms the importance
of a measured approach towards the important issue of
the restructuring of our public assets.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate
our new strategic partner and to thank the Honourable
Stella Sigcau for the work she did to enable us to reach
the important stage we have, during which we will deal
with the other business units within the Transnet group.
Similarly, the liquid fuels and petro-chemical industry
will be given priority, with the Ministries of Minerals
and Energy, Trade and Industry and Public Enterprises
This will include finalisation of discussions with
the Government of Mocambique with regard to a gas pipeline
from their gas fields to South Africa.
The outcome of these processes will result in adding
a highly competitive dimension to the productive economies
of Southern Africa.
The Government will continue to intensify its work
to facilitate investment by the private sector, ensuring
that the institutions that have been established to
promote investment and the system of incentives achieve
the desired results.
Further to improve our effectiveness in these areas,
we will shortly establish an International Investment
This prestigious Council, which will include some of
the leading players in the global economy who are driven
by a passionate desire to ensure that we succeed as
a country, will work with the President, as well as
our leading business people and trade unionists to help
us ensure that South Africa is an attractive destination
for foreign investment.
Consistent with our determination to strengthen our
partnership with the people for the achievement of our
common goals, four Working Groups will also be established
bringing government together with big business, the
black business sector, commercial agriculture and the
The development of small, medium and micro enterprises
remains a top priority of government. Accordingly, new
measures will have to be instituted to record more success
than has been the case to date.
We have listened very carefully to what the actors
in this area of the economy have said. Accordingly,
the policy and institutional framework to support and
encourage this sector is being reviewed.
We will announce new decisions in this regard within
the next three months.
The Government will also place more emphasis on the
development of a co- operative movement to combine the
financial, labour and other resources among the masses
of the people, rebuild our communities and engage the
people in their own development through sustainable
There are two other areas that have an impact on investment.
Interest rates remain high. The Reserve Bank and the
Ministry of Finance will continue to address this matter
carefully, conscious of the negative impact these high
rates have on higher rates of investment and growth.
The other area that has attracted considerable comment
is the labour market and its actual or perceived impact
on investment and job creation. Much of this commentary
is ill informed or promotes a particular ideological
and political point of view.
The most recent independent study on this issue was
published by the ILO in February, this year.
The report states that:
" One of the key findings of the study was that
when compared to other middle-income countries, labour
regulations on dismissal, fixed-term contracts and working
conditions do not appear to be particularly onerous...A
degree of numerical adaptability (at exit) does exist
- thus dismissing the view that inflexible labour markets
are at the heart of the employment problem...Unfortunately
employers perceive that the recent "avalanche"
of labour market policy now make it more onerous to
employ. These perceptions, whilst they may not be rooted
in reality when one considers the regulatory environment
in other countries, do appear to be influencing the
behaviour of the economic actors..."
The Government will continue to give priority to the
issue of job creation. If perceptions or realities influence
the process negatively, these must be addressed.
Accordingly, in keeping with the decisions taken at
the Job Summit, consultations have been taking place
with our social partners to identify such possible areas.
These include probation, remedies for unfair dismissals,
dismissals for operational requirements, the extension
of bargaining council agreements and certain provisions
of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
We will continue to discuss these matters with our
social partners to address the efficiency of the labour
Job creation, the opening up of opportunities for all
our people to earn an honest livelihood as well as the
protection of the rights of all our working people,
remain matters of critical concern to the Government.
We will continue actively to address all these matters,
including such important questions as skills development,
the casualisation of labour, illegal foreign workers
and workers whose rights are not protected.
All necessary measures will also be taken to ensure
the implementation of all other decisions taken at the
Job Summit. The necessary funds have already been voted
to meet the commitments the Government made at this
All our partners have an obligation themselves publicly
to report on the actions they have taken and are taking
to honour their undertakings.
An important project that will soon be implemented
within the context of the Job Summit will be the improvement
of public buildings to enhance access and use by disabled
people. This initiative, elaborated by the disabled,
the National Youth Commission and Public Works will
be implemented soon, as part of the programme decided
at the Job Summit.
The Umsobomvu Fund for youth development and training
will become operational as soon as the Old Mutual has
completed its demutualisation process.
The Board of Trustees of the National Development Agency
will be constituted shortly. Hopefully, this will assist
in ensuring the further mobilisation of the people themselves
to participate in the development process as agents
working for social change and their own advancement.
I am pleased to announce that, immediately, the Minister
of Trade and Industry will make recommendations to the
Government with regard to those who competed to run
our national lottery.
This important matter will be concluded within the
next fourteen days. In a few months, it will be possible
to allocate even more resources to the promotion of
the good causes to which the Government and institutions
such as the NDA and the IDT are committed.
The rural areas of our country represent the worst
concentrations of poverty. No progress can be made towards
a life of human dignity for our people as a whole unless
we ensure the development of these areas.
The Government is now in a position to implement a
rural development programme for the integrated development
of the rural areas. This will bring together all government
departments and all spheres of government, including
the traditional leaders.
The integration we seek must, for instance, ensure
that when a clinic is built, there must be a road to
access it. It must be electrified and supplied with
It must have the requisite personnel, qualified to
meet the health needs of the particular community.
The safety and security of the personnel and material
resources which are part of the clinic must be guaranteed.
We must also establish the conditions which give the
possibility to this medical point to radiate outwards
as a point of reference with regard to the larger project
of our self-definition as a people at work, building
a better life for ourselves.
Consistent with our concentration on this objective,
including the critical importance of jobs, the Government
remains preoccupied with the issue of gold sales and
their impact on gold mining, employment and export earnings,
both in our own country and the rest of our Continent.
Working within the Gold Crisis Committee, we will continue
to maintain contact will all relevant players both domestically
and throughout the world to minimise the inevitable
adverse effect on our country, people and our Continent.
The debt burden of those who cannot both carry this
debt and achieve sustained development must be addressed.
In the same way that we have demonstrated our own commitment
to contribute to the development of others less fortunate
than ourselves, by forgiving the debts of some of our
neighbours, we expect that those who are a thousand
time wealthier than we are, will not seek to help us
as Africans by rendering us less capable of standing
on our own feet.
Further to improve the quality of life of all our people,
especially the most disadvantaged, the Government will
maintain its approach to reprioritise public spending
to maintain and improve the safety net available to
the most disadvantaged in our society.
It is however vital that we improve the quality of
spending in these areas and therefore the delivery of
services to the people.
This will be done by managing downwards the amounts
spent on personnel, rooting out corruption and theft,
improving management skills throughout the social sector
and ensuring an integrated, inter-departmental approach
to the delivery of services.
Special programmes will also be introduced to speed
up the improvement of the quality of life of various
sections of our population.
These will include the accelerated delivery of assistive
devices for the disabled and the establishment of one-stop
centres for abused women and children.
The Office on the Status of Women will present a gender
audit to Government by September. This will enable the
Government to evaluate the progress achieved with regard
to the implementation of the Plan of Action on Gender,
which the previous government adopted.
This will enable us to take such decisions as may be
necessary to ensure that we continue to focus on the
vital question of the development and emancipation of
women as well as further integrate this issue within
all government programmes.
The advances made in this National Parliament and the
National Executive with regard to gender equity, point
to the need to adopt a similar approach with regard
to all other centres of authority and power in our society.
Similarly, the Government will tighten its tracking
of the poverty question to ensure that government policies
and programmes are actually succeeding to reduce the
levels of poverty in the country.
The funds set aside for poverty alleviation will also
be allocated without further delay and will be used
not as handouts but as a catalyst towards sustainable
The Government will also review all the work done so
far to confront the scourge of HIV/AIDS with a view
to the intensification of all efforts relating to this
Of critical importance will be that we take all necessary
steps to ensure that the partnerships against HIV/AIDS
that have been formed and the public education campaigns
we have been conducting do actually result in changing
behaviour patterns, improve support to AIDS victims
and orphans and speed up steps towards the development
of a vaccine.
An historic document of the people of our country asserts
that as a consequence of the victory of the struggle
for national liberation - the doors of education and
culture shall be open to all! Many people, including
our youth, died and sacrificed for the realisation of
this objective. They did so because they understood
the importance for themselves and all our communities
of the right to freedom from ignorance.
Consistent with this correct view, we must ensure that
education and training constitute the decisive drivers
in our effort to build a winning nation.
The Government will therefore intensify its focus on
education so that we succeed in our effort to produce
an educated and appropriately skilled population.
A great deal of work has been done in this area affecting
all levels of education and training. We will therefore
ensure that existing policies and programmes are carried
out with a sense of urgency and commitment to their
To achieve these results, we will also have to engage
in massive in-service training programmes for educators
in all fields and at all levels, as well as the transformation
of pre-service training.
We will have to focus on an outcomes-based assessment
as well as on quality management systems. Our human
resource development strategies will only succeed if
the people assigned to develop our human resources have
the capacity to do so.
All necessary steps must and will be taken to ensure
that learners learn, educators educate and managers
Once more we will also take the necessary measures
to mobilise the people, including parents, so that we
succeed as a country to meet the challenge of educating
all our people in a manner that is consistent with the
demands imposed on everybody by the process of globalisation.
The Government is also determined to ensure that the
machinery of state is geared towards serving the people
in keeping with the vision of "Batho pele!"
We will speed up the completion of the Skills and Service
Audits currently being carried out. This audit is aimed
at defining service needs, the availability of skills
and the possibilities for redeployment to support the
process of the restructuring of the public service.
Action will be taken on the basis of this study, as
well as other initiatives, to right-size the public
service, improve skills levels, improve the quality
of management and release more resources for the actual
provision of services to the people.
We will also work with the South African Local Government
Association to lend all necessary assistance to ensure
that this sphere of government improves its effectiveness
and efficiency, bearing in mind that this is the point
at which our entire system of governance delivers services
to the people.
In this context, we must make the point that to overcome
the problem of urban poverty, will require that local
government adopts and pursues a consistent programme
of poverty relief, without discrimination on the basis
of race or colour.
Our Government is ready and willing to support this
The promotion and protection of the cultural, linguistic
and religious rights of all our people must occupy a
central place in the work of the Government.
It should not happen that anyone of us should feel
a sense of alienation. Whatever the sicknesses of our
society, none should be driven to levels of despair
which drive them to a peripheral existence at the fringes
of the mainstream.
Nor should we allow that those who were denied their
identity, including the Khoi and the San, continue to
exist in the shadows, a passing historical relic and
an object of an obscene tourist curiosity.
We consider the work of restoring the pride and identity
of all our people of vital importance to the task of
advancing the human dignity of all our citizens and
ensuring the success of our efforts towards national
reconciliation and nation building.
We will work for the speedy implementation of the constitutional
requirement to establish a Commission for the Promotion
and Protection of Language, Cultural and Religious Rights.
We will also work with the traditional leaders to resolve
all outstanding matters relating to the important question
of the role of our traditional leaders in our system
The Ministries of Sports and Recreation as well as
Arts, Culture, Science and Technology will play a special
role with regard to the critical work to ensure that
all our cultures and languages occupy their rightful
place within the rich tapestry that constitutes our
diverse being as a people.
This will be an important contribution to the effort
we must sustain to wipe out the legacies of racism and
sexism, which continue to afflict our society.
Capacity will also be created within the Presidency
to ensure that our Government, at its highest levels,
gives attention to all these questions which bear on
The Government will also focus on the tasks of achieving
the objectives of the African Renaissance and ensuring
that the next century evolves as the African century.
We will therefore contribute whatever we can towards
the resolution of conflicts on our Continent. We cannot
accept that war, violent conflict and rapine are a permanent
condition of existence for us as Africans.
Nor can we accept that our Continent, endowed with
enormous human and natural resources, is incapable of
achieving sustained development.
Everyday all those who will hear and see are exposed
to the extraordinary integrated cultural heritage which
both captures our African past and is an important factor
that will contribute towards the recovery of our pride
Gradually, Africa will work her way towards the resumption
of her rightful place among the continents of our globe.
Where necessary, we will call on the services of such
outstanding African statespersons as former Presidents
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Sir Ketumile Masire and Nelson
Mandela to assist in the promotion of this agenda.
As part of the world community of nations, we will
make our due contribution to the construction of a new
world order that will be responsive to the needs of
especially the poor of the world.
For us to succeed in our work, both as a Government
and a people, will require that we approach the tasks
ahead with all due seriousness and a sense of discipline
which recognises the fact that all rights are accompanied
It will require that all of us defend the freedoms
and the system of governance guaranteed and created
by our Constitution, underpinned by the understanding
that the people are the final guarantors of our democracy,
the subject of all government policies and their own
As the people went to the polls earlier this month,
protected among others by our National Defence Force,
which had also acted to defend life and democracy in
Lesotho, they expected that the government they would
elect would work selflessly to respond to their needs
and aspirations, bearing in mind resource limitations.
We dare not and will not disappoint that expectation.
As a tribute to these masses, I would like to salute
all the provincial winners of the President's Award
for Community Initiative.
I am happy to announce that the national winner of
the Award, whose work focussed on such important issues
as poverty alleviation, the emancipation of women, the
rebuilding of communities, domestic violence and providing
education on HIV/AIDS, is the Makgaung Community Project
of the Northern Province.
May the selfless and creative work carried out by the
women of the Northern Province serve to inspire all
of us to spare no effort in the struggle to create a
We sit in this parliament, authorised by these women
from the Northern Province and others who mirror them
throughout our country, to work as their representatives.
We must assume that they were wise to have selected
If they were, as we must accept in our self interest
that they were, this we must accept also that none of
us should forsake their wisdom, as it will watch over
us as we carry out our tasks.
Their wisdom will protect us, exalt and honour us,
even as it costs us all we have, including the vanity
of our prejudices.
If, by word and deed, we take our places among the
ordinary people who position themselves among a nation
that is at work to build a better life for all within
a caring society, then should we expect that the poor
of our world will set a garland of grace on our heads
and present each and everyone of us with a crown of
Thus will we all arrive at the starting point - that
we are on course!